Got "fired" by MIL as her caregiver. Anyone else going through this?


I had been the primary caregiver for my 78 year old Mother-in-law since about mid-Feb. of this year. She had a few small strokes that went undetected in January and ended up in the ER once we figured it out. After a 2 week stay, most of it on rehab floor, she was released with 24/7 supervision. We got her an emergency pendant and made a schedule of "shifts" to be at her home more for companionship/supervision than any actual "Care." She doesn't have dementia, but does get things mixed up (she always has) so I keep a journal of medical stuff and Dr visits to refer to.

She refuses to let us so much as look at her pill bottles, let alone try to double check her taking them. So I count the pills behind her back and keep track if she is taking them. I'd say she is 95% compliant, but has trouble when one gets changed, and it takes several days to get her reliable with it. If I so much as ask "Have you taken your medicine today?" I get a hateful response and nasty attitude for quite some time. At least I did get her using the daily pill box again finally after the last pill change.

Last weekend I came over and walked in on a firestorm. SIL (her daughter) and MIL were arguing about some lost prescriptions. MIL says I took them. MIL has lost them, as the doctor handed them to her directly and I don't handle her papers for fear of being accused of taking/losing/snooping. We all end up discussing lots of things that have needed to be addressed since we are all there at one time (quite rare!) some forgetfulness and some mixups she has made lately.

Long story short, she gets defensive and it all turns to arguing, yelling and even some flailing of arms-- it becomes apparent that her paranoia has her believing that the SIL & I are conspiring to put her in a home. MIL uses her emergency device to call authorities to ask us to leave because we are "Being mean and hateful, somebody needs to come get them to leave" *sigh*

Now, I could have killed the officer! He talks to MIL who says she lives alone and does just fine, keeping up with her pets, housework, etc. And he replies "looks like you are doing great to me!" Of course, what she heard is "You can live alone forever, you are perfectly ok!" When he steps outside to talk to us, he says, "I think your next step is to get her evaluated, maybe by her doctor? She might not be competent to live on her own" Um, thanks for that!

Now, she doesn't want her daughter or me to set foot in her house, have anything to do with her Dr. appts, Rx, or anything at all. She has asked the across the road neighbor to take her to appts. and the store. If you ask MIL, she will tell you that her neighbor is her new caregiver, if you ask the neighbor, she will tell you that she is driving her to appts. and town, but said "No" to being her caregiver.

The neighbor talked with DH & I for a few minutes and said MIL told her the sister hit her across the face & on her arm during the argument (not true.) She's also told them I & the daughter want to put her in a home, that I steal papers and Rx's , and who knows what else, all untrue, but she believes it.

What she is NOT telling them is that she isn't supposed to drive (she was on the zero turn mower already 2 or 3 times since I was fired) she isn't supposed to go up and down stairs (Neighbor said she is planning to buy a new washer and dryer since hers quit - and they are located in the basement, so this means she is planning on carrying her laundry up and down the stairs) or any of her other restrictions.

And she's told them nothing of her medical stuff - what pills she takes when, what symptoms to watch out for in case of another stroke or medical crisis. She just wants them to take her to town and leave her alone.

We've been to the ER 3 times in the last month, and she was admitted with a UTI one of those times. I'm concerned about her health - with no one going in with her during Dr. appts and providing him with accurate answers to questions. Also of concern is that she can come out of the doctor appt. and say whatever she wants (Gee, he said I don't have to take my blood thinners anymore!) to get her way on things she doesn't want/ or does want to do. This seems dangerous to me, but at the same time, it seems like I'm in a pickle, there nothing I can do but pray.

The sad thing is, I've made it my goal to do everything I can to keep her in her home since the day I started caretaking for her, but in her mind, I'm the enemy and can't be trusted. *sigh*

And I have to say, there's a part of me that's just relieved to be off the caregiving hook. I imagine that she will fall, quit taking one of her meds again, or do something else to cause another ER visit and maybe even a hospital stay, and this time she may not be able to come back home but have to go to a facility for rehab, and then end up there permanently.

Anyone else going through this? How are your handling it? (and sorry this was so long!)

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Calicocat, two years ago, I was mad as blazes at my husband for not "stepping up". I realized in the end that he understood that she was simply unable to acceot help and that we were better off not trying to help her. "Helping" only backfired with her. In the end, youngest sibling stepped in and insisted she be allowed to starve herself to death. Complained about "the goverment not letting his mother die" oy.
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CalicoKat - I have one of those, inherited from my mother, Pixie - you've received wonderful replies here. I think you know deep in your heart where this is going and how it's going to end and so does your hubby. As all of us get in the caregiving nightmare you are consumed by guilt, yet so angry, all at the same time and unless you can let it go and accept the inevitable the stress will make you ill. Then what good are you to yourself or anyone?.

Some of us are going through the caregiving experience, some carees have passed and some are now in nursing homes. Whatever our situations just remember, we're always here for you!
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I am sorry that you are going through this. It is a good example of why people and other family members won't help. There is only so much that you can do, because we all still have rights, no matter how bonkers we get.
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Palmtrees1, sounds like we are in the same boat, although since the Dr.'s said 24/7 care, we were able to get the emergency alert pendant (it's this or we will be here all the time, if you want a little freedom this is the only way . . . . )

And yes, neighbors will be sorry. Partly they are nosy, so it serves them right just a tiny bit *insert evil grin here*

I wish Hubby would step up a little, but at least his sister and the BIL realize that I'm the only one doing anything, so my efforts are appreciated by them. He just really believes that she's going to do what she wants to do and we can't stop her, so we shouldn't try (got the stubborn gene from her.)

That's been the hardest part of this whole 6 month experience - he and I being at opposite sides of the issue. That's been very hard for me. But now, after being "fired" I'm forced onto his team so to speak, so that's been kind of nice in its' own weird way :)
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Thank you ba8alou. I think the stubborn part is the hardest one to deal with :0(

The ironic thing is, she cared for her mother in law and we all saw Gr'ma be awful to her. We have told MIL that she is acting just like Gr'ma and treating us the way she was treated, but she disagrees. And none of it matters, because what she believes is HER truth, regardless of how it lines up with reality.

And no worries on bringing her into our home. My goal is to keep her in HER home as long as possible, I never, ever agreed or will agree to bring her into mine. If she were doing everything possible to stay compliant and be reasonable, maybe. But seeing how she is now in her home lets me know that life in my home would be unbearable, and I'm not subjecting my kids to that.
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Also, you know, I love my neighbors BUT under no circumstances would I get involved with a family issue with a difficult elderly parent. This will backfire on this neighbor big time. The neighbor probably means well but as they say "no good deed goes unpunished".
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Husband needs to step it up a bit too. You seem to be a very caring person and looks as if the other family members will let you do the care giving. You have to realize your MIL is very controlling and self centered to put all of you through this trouble. You are only trying to help her. My mother is very much like this but still has pretty good health. Her mind is slipping a little and the lies and paranoia are showing up on a regular basis. She lives alone and we have suggested she get a life alert, a burglar alarm, a this, a that to help her feel safe but she won't. She won't go to the doctor unless she is darn near dying. She won't hire help. She won't cooperate in anyway with her children. So, I say let her go and then when the big accident/illness occurs we will deal with her. What can you do?
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My husband's mom was like this, stubborn and paranoid and accusatory. When she accusing my husband of "elder abuse" (he was telling her that she really needed to stop smoking due to her COPD) and threatened to call APS on him, he walked away. the inevitable crisis happened, she had ill-advised surgery, wouldn't do rehab and basically starved herself to death in a very sub-standard nursing home. These folks are their own worst enemies and as much as we may love them, they won't be helped. Just make sure that when she's admitted to the hospital for the next crisis, you and the rest of the family stand firm and say, as with one voice "NO, we CANNOT care for her in her home, she won't let us". Repeat as often as necessary. They will try to torture you with guilt and she will beg, plead and whine. But it won't work. Hugs and empathy to you both.
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Thanks for the answers and just for understanding!

Hubby has been pretty hands off during the whole time. He feels like she's going to do stupid stuff and we can't stop it. I had been operating under the thinking that I'm there to protect her from doing stupid stuff. He was supposed to go over 2 days a week, while I'm at my regular job, but after the first week in (back in March), he just popped in on his way home from work at 7am (works nights) and when his mom said "Gee, you should go on home and get some sleep, you don't need to be here." He did just that. Then after a week or so of that, he just didn't even come by. So I'm the main person. The Daughter and son-in-law originally moved in the first month after she came home from the hosp., but that fell apart after a month and they moved out and turned her care over to us, which became me (and our middle daughter, 19, who stays there so someone is there at night).

Actually, she's so stubborn that she won't call us, we'll have to wait for a call from the neighbor. Her whining about how awful (fill in the blank with some imagined slight or terrible behavior by me) was, will be directed at the neighbor, who is still new to this and doesn't know that there is a lot of lying (either remembering wrong or lying on purpose - hard to tell sometimes) and escalating of how "bad" some things are. Neighbor will learn as I did, when she discovers that MIL has begun lying about her. It may take a little time, but it will happen.

All along she's wanted "her life" back and hated that the doctors want her to have 24/7 supervision. So in a way, she has "won", but she'll lose in the end. She will mow the lawn, climb stairs, throw away meds, and be "happy."

I told the neighbor that I had a medical journal and if she wanted a copy to know about meds, appointments and medical history, I'd be glad to copy it for her. But I'm sure MIL is telling her that she's fine and probably hasn't even mentioned the 24/7 thing at all.

I did call the Doctor's office Friday and asked if they could test her for a UTI at her appt. today. Nurse said the Dr. can't just test for it, he has to have a reason. I told her that I thought the escalating paranoia, increased anger & irrational behavior (calling the police!) might be caused by it and I really want her tested. But I stressed that he can not give away that I gave him that info. All along she has thought I was talking to the Dr. behind her back, and now one time I have. If she gets wind of it this will just "confirm" that she's right, and brand ME as the liar and sneak.

Thank you again for just being here. Ashlynne, you are right, I can't save her from herself & I know the answer is to sit and wait, but it hurts that she's going to have a medical crisis (and we all know that it's coming) that could have been prevented if she would not be so darn stubborn.
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There's nothing more you can do but wait for the inevitable, another stroke, a bad fall or something that will put her in hospital where she can be evaluated as to her fitness to live alone. Unfortunately she'll likely "showtime" to everyone and con them into believing she's just fine to return home. You cannot save someone from themselves. She says the neighbours run her on errands but they will quickly discover they're at her beck and call and they'll back off or totally disappear from the drama..

What does your husband think about all of this? After all she's his mother, not yours.
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